2013 Recipient: Brandon "Sarge" McCoy - DL, University of North Texas

Brandon McCoy, a senior defensive end at North Texas, is the second recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).


McCoy walked onto the North Texas squad after serving five years (2004-2008) in the U. S. Army where he was discharged on August 19, 2008 after receiving numerous medals for his service time in Iraq.

McCoy's military journey began after he was kicked out of high school his senior year in 2003 for cheating, forcing him to attend summer school to earn his high school diploma. After being kicked out of his home for using drugs, McCoy lived in a drug house for a year before his father convinced him to speak with the Army about a possible career.

Upon enlistment, McCoy was assigned to the 116th infantry division at Fort Riley, Kansas. He spent 18 months in training before being assigned to the 134th armored unit, which was then deployed to Campo Anaconda in Iraq before being transferred to Taji, just 20miles north of Baghdad. McCoy's assignment for 13 months was one of the most dangerous at the time as he drove Humvees in supply runs and combat missions.

Later, the unit's mission was changed  to provide convoy security for supply transport that faced countless IED attacks and roadside bombings. His security unit did not suffer a single fatality in their entire 13 months of deployment in Iraq.

"I needed the right path to go," McCoy said. "I had no discipline. In the military, you either get it or you don't. I needed that structure. It was a huge outlook change, and it let me know what I really wanted to do.”

Click any image below to learn about other recipients.